Reggie Reads: February 2013
Illinois State is proud to be able to acknowledge the work of graduates who are successful authors.
If you’ve written a book that has been released by a publishing house within the past decade, submit it for review by Professor Emerita of English JoAnna Stephens Mink ’73, M.S. ’75, D.A. ’85. All books authored by alums will be added to a collection of work by other graduates on display in the Alumni Center. Autographed copies are especially appreciated. Please send your book to Illinois State editor Susan Blystone at Illinois State Alumni Center, 1101 N. Main Street, Normal, IL 61790. Inquiries can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Budig, Gene A. The Inside Pitch . . . and More: Baseball’s Business and the Public Trust. Morgantown: West Virginia University Press, 2004. 137pp.
Budig, Gene A. Grasping the Ring II: Nine People Who Matter. Champaign, IL: The News-Gazette, Inc. 2009. 120pp.
Summary: Gene Budig begins his Introduction of The Inside Pitch by acknowledging the students in his Business Sports and the Public Trust course (Princeton University) who persistently examined and debated issues with various commissioners and owners of professional sports teams. One may wonder, says Budig, how a former professor and university president became president of the American League. After several years of working in higher education (as teacher, researcher and administrator) and in state government, Budig was tapped as dean of faculties, then a year later, as President of Illinois State University. From ISU, he was president of two other universities until “lightning struck” in 1994, when Major League Baseball called him to be the American League president. And Budig’s boyhood dream came true.
Baseball is “part of our national being,” opines Budig; moreover, from interacting with his boyhood idols and modern-day players, he learned lessons never taught in university classrooms about the realities of contemporary life. The Inside Pitch examines those lessons and provides some insider perspectives on the billion-dollar industry that is American baseball. For instance, he credits Bob Costas for paving the way for the Blue Ribbon Panel’s findings in 2000 of the competitive imbalance among teams. Budig details the subsequent actions within the MLB.
Readers of “Reggie Reads” will recall that Budig’s Grasping the Ring (2008) was reviewed in the May 2010 issue. Grasping the Ring II continues Budig’s mission of highlighting exceptional Americans. All are connected to the world of professional sports. Rachel Robinson, the sole woman cited, “exemplifies so much of what Americans today hold dear” in her love of baseball, her support of husband Jackie Robinson, and her continuing assistance of young minority students. Chicagoan Bill Veek was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, an honor which owners rarely are given.
Other major sports figures, many of whom Budig has known personally as well as professionally, include Costas, Bob Gibson, Billy Beane, Jerry West, Stan Kasten and Bud Selig. The seeming exception to this roster is “the ultimate star” The Singing Cowboy. Budig’s parents named him after Gene Autry, “believing it might bring me luck.” Budig knew Autry as owner of the California Angels, and Autry nominated him for the presidency of the American League. “I liked the idea of having a college person and it would show our respect for education,” Autry told Budig.
Grasping the Ring II interweaves Budig’s recollections of his childhood and professional careers with interesting insights into the achievements of these outstanding Americans. The monograph concludes with a list of books for further reading.
About the author: Gene A. Budig was president of ISU from 1973 to 1977 and received an honorary degree in 1982. He served for six years as president of Major League Baseball’s American League and currently is co-owner of the Charleston RiverDogs, the Class A entry of the New York Yankees in the South Atlantic League. Budig is distinguished professor and senior presidential advisor of the College Board in New York City.
Holt, Nancy Ellen. A Horn for Nancy. Illus. Susan E. (Holt) Musick. Grants Pass, Oregon: The Kodel Group, 2011. 46pp.
Before Nancy was born, her parents and brother sang to her. Like many babies, Nancy “sang” and “played” her rattle in her crib. As a small child, Nancy wanted to play a trumpet ever since she saw a picture of a man playing one. Soon, her father bought her a plastic toy trumpet, which she played and played and played. Subsequently, Nancy takes lessons—on a real trumpet—and eventually becomes part of the school’s marching band, and even wins medals.
This simple and straightforward story, published in large print format and colorfully illustrated by Holt’s sister, reinforces the importance of music in a child’s life. Though not all children will acquire the skill to win awards, the underlying lesson in A Horn for Nancy is for parents to encourage their children to appreciate and develop their musical talent.
About the author: Nancy Ellen (Simmons) Holt, ’67, M.A. ’70, spent most of her professional career as a nurse, patient educator and nursing instructor. She has played cornet in several bands, orchestras and ensembles. Holt currently lives in Grants Pass, Oregon, where she sings and plays cornet in a senior choir and volunteers at the YMCA as children’s reading teacher.
Link, Teresa. Denting the Bosch: A Novel of Marriage, Friendship, and Expensive Household Appliances. New York: Thomas Dunne Books-St. Martin’s Press, 2012. 288pp.
Summary: Teresa Link’s debut novel Denting the Bosch features three middle-aged women whose equanimity is about to unravel. Adele, Maggie and Sylvia are best friends entering a new phase of their lives as empty nesters. No longer having to be concerned with climbing the corporate ladder, they look forward to enjoying their friendship and interests in San Diego—until Sylvia’s husband announces he wants a divorce, causing Maggie and Adele to examine their own marriages. Marriages, friendships and financial prosperity are all vulnerable.
In spite of this trauma, Link’s assessment of middle age and friendship is often hilarious, exhibiting low-key humor. For instance, Sylvia (“Syl”) goes into a Starbucks and buys “four more apricot blueberry muffins to get her through the day.” What an antidote to despair! She staves off depression by “devising implements to suck dust out from under the dryer, clean the refrigerator coils, the venetian blinds, and blades of the ceiling fan.” While drinking a pot of coffee, she pictures the three husbands as dogs, hers as a sloppy, drooling golden retriever.
Link’s prose quickly moves the story along, interspersing dialogue with description, though readers need to pay attention because the narrative is non-linear. Consequently, the reader comes to know the women. Regarding the novel’s unusual title, Link responded in an interview, “A friend of mine, a wonderful novelist named Jincy Willet, read my draft and she kept referring to it as ‘denting the bosch,’ which I thought was a joke. After a while she said to me, ’That’s the name of your book,’ and at that point it became the name. I went along with her idea” (www.yourtango.com).
About the author: Teresa Link, M.S. ’76, has worked throughout the United States and abroad as an actress, dramaturge and director. She has written for the stage, television and film, and her travel writing has appeared in numerous publications. She lives in Encinitas, California.